The Supreme Court of the United States convened its new session on October 6 and declined to hear five states’ appeals to retain their bans on same-sex marriage, which means that, effective immediately, Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, and Oklahoma must allow same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses and marry there. By allowing its historic June 26, 2013 ruling, that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, to stand, despite states’ challenges, the Court also paved the way for Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming to drop their opposition to marriage equality.
Brian Silva, Executive Director of Marriage Equality USA wrote, in an email to members and supporters, “Today’s Supreme Court action has been a major step forward in our fight.” Organizing for Action, the grassroots movement backing President Barack Obama’s bids for election and re-election, noted, “The Supreme Court just quietly brought our country one step closer to marriage equality … This is a big moment for equality … and the decision paves the way for even more progress.”
Lambda Legal’s Executive Director Kevin Cathcart declared, “The actions taken by the Supreme Court are not even a day old and same-sex couples are already getting married and getting licenses in the [five] states covered by the marriage equality cases that were before the court.” Concerning the six additional states where cases are pending, Cathcart wrote, “In the 4th Circuit, Lambda Legal has a case pending now in West Virginia and we already filed papers today asking the court to rule immediately for the freedom to marry there. Attorneys with cases in the other states in the 4th Circuit will do the same. In the 10th Circuit, the Colorado attorney general has already issued a statement recognizing that local officials must begin allowing same-sex couples to marry. Lawyers in Wyoming and Kansas are planning action, too. That means same-sex couples in [these six states], who want to marry, should be able to … start to plan their weddings as well.” Lambda Legal also has cases pending in Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Puerto Rico, and Texas, with decisions in Nevada and Ohio, in the 9th and 6th Circuit Courts of Appeal respectively, possible soon.
The Matthew Shepard Foundation found particular poignancy in the October 6 date, the anniversary of its namesake being “abducted and attacked in Laramie, WY because he was gay. Today, on the 16th anniversary of that terrible event, the Supreme Court denied appeals to block the rights of loving, committed same-sex couples—and once again October 6th is a pivotal day in LGBT history … The Supreme Court decision shows the progress we have made since Matt was attacked, a tragedy that drastically changed the way our country discussed issues of anti-LGBT hate.”